Our fast-paced, instantly networked world is filled with Instagrams and tweets from sports superstars, movie stars, politicians and business execs. Last week, in a refreshing change, the multimedia networks were buzzing with the spiritual superstar that is Pope Francis.
Instead of pics of the latest glitterati gowns or a story of a new corporate scandal, there were pictures of large crowds excitedly yet peacefully waiting to see or hear him. News footage of the pontiff with his messages of love, forgiveness and concern for the poor and vulnerable in his addresses to Congress, the United Nations and crowds of people was a bright spot in an often-bleak news landscape.
In these media images (as in his appearances), he is planting seeds of love and hope. It seems clear, from his worldwide popularity and acceptance from people of different religions, politics and nationality, his message resonates with many people on the planet. His simple message of love and hope is something we can all rally behind.
That same simple idea of love and hope brought hundreds (and thousands over the years) of people together to build the community center that is Andrews House. People from many different churches and faiths, families, individuals, youth groups, businesses and organizations came together to build a place with love and hope, and to help those in our community who need it.
This idea of love and hope is something that binds us together as humans. No matter who we are or where we’re from, what religion or politics we follow, we all understand love and hope. We all need love and hope. Everyone.
In his speech to Congress, the pope said, “We can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing.” Love and hope come in many forms. I think that a good meal, a roof over your head, and a smile or kind hand waiting inside are the kinds of love and hope that all humans understand.
In America, housing is a complicated issue to a very basic human need. Hunger and poverty are, too. These issues are different in every community across our nation. Hunger and homelessness look different in Delaware County than in New York City, but those problems exist here, too. Many people in our community are coming together to address these issues. They are sowing seeds of love and hope. The more people become involved, the more love and hope grows.
When a priest who worked with Pope Francis in the slums of Buenos Aires asked about his papacy he said: The Catholic Church wanted change but “perhaps what some did not predict is that when somebody starts to see the world from the viewpoint of the poorest, (s)he undergoes a profound transformation.” I see this happening in Delaware. As more people become aware of issues of poverty, homelessness and hunger, more solutions are found. More love and hope grows. Oftentimes it is simply becoming aware or acknowledging a problem that makes change happen.
Also in his address to Congress, the pope mentioned Dorothy Day among other great Americans, such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Thomas Merton, who “were able by hard work and self-sacrifice … to build a better future.” He said of Day, “Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith and the example of the saints.”
I encounter hundreds of people like Day who are changing the world bit by little bit in Delaware. They are helping people with both immediate needs, such as food and shelter, but also changing the culture and thought of our community through trainings, such as “Bridges Out of Poverty.”
I challenge each of us to find our own seeds of love and hope to plant and see what grows from it.
Mel Corroto has been the director of Andrews House since October 2012. She has lived and been part of the Delaware community since 1997.